This is not the first time China has lost control of a spacecraft since it returned to Earth.
Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin has vowed not to destroy the Chinese rocket this Thursday, which is expected to re-enter the atmosphere unchecked this weekend, while criticizing Beijing for losing control.
“According to the latest estimates I have seen, this is scheduled for May 8 or 9,” the US Secretary of Defense told a news conference.
“At this point, we have no plans to destroy the rocket,” he added. “We hope she falls into the sea, or somewhere like that, where no one is harmed.”
Possibility of rocket decomposition
China last week launched the first “CSS” of three components of its space station, powered by a Long March 5B rocket. The body of this rocket is just about to land in the next few days and no one knows where it is.
After splitting the space block, the launcher began to orbit the planet in an irregular orbit, slowly losing altitude, making no prediction about its entry point into the atmosphere, so its fall point was almost impossible.
If it enters the atmosphere it will decompose and only a limited amount of debris can decompose. If it is complete, there is a good chance that the rocket will be damaged at sea, as the planet is 70% water, but not for sure. Thus it may collide with a residential area or on a ship.
“Duty to act in a safe and thoughtful manner”
Without particularly quoting Chinese officials, Lloyd Austin pointed out that the Chinese rocket launch was not carefully planned.
“It’s a testament to the fact that astronauts have or should have a duty to act safely and thoughtfully, and to take all of this into account when planning operations,” he added. .
This is not the first time China has lost control of a spacecraft since it returned to Earth. In April 2018, two years after a Tiangong-1 space laboratory ceased operations, it crashed into re-entering the atmosphere. Chinese officials have denied the allegations, saying the laboratories have escaped control.